Four initiatives likely headed for November ballots

Voters will choose on marijuana, primary elections, GMO foods and gender equality

By Scott Hammers / The Bulletin

Published Jul 4, 2014 at 12:01AM

Oregon voters will likely have four citizen initiatives on the November ballot to consider, after Thursday’s deadline for campaigners to submit collected signatures to the Oregon Secretary of State’s Office.

Spokesman Tony Green said supporters of an equal rights amendment, which would bar the state or any local government from discriminating on the basis of gender, turned in their petitions early and have qualified for the November election.

Thursday, campaigns to legalize the recreational use of marijuana, mandate labeling of foods made with genetically modified organisms, and establish “top two” primary elections submitted their signatures.

“All three of them turned in signatures more than were required and they would tell you they have enough to qualify, but we still have to do the actual counting,” Green said.

The state has until Aug. 2 to verify that each of the campaigns has collected enough signatures to earn a spot on the ballot. To qualify for the statewide ballot, an initiative campaign must collect at least 87,213 signatures from registered Oregon voters.

The recreational marijuana initiative would allow the sale of marijuana to Oregonians 21 and over, as licensed and regulated by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission.

A tax rate of $35 per ounce of marijuana flowers, $10 per ounce on marijuana leaves and $5 on each immature marijuana plant would be established, with 40 percent of the proceeds dedicated to the Common School Fund, 35 percent to state and local police, 20 percent to mental health and substance abuse services, and 5 percent to the Oregon Health Authority.

The GMO labeling initiatives would apply to both raw and packaged foods sold at retail. Packaged foods would be required to display the words “produced with genetic engineering” or “partially produced with genetic engineering” on the label if they contain more than nine-tenths percent genetically modified ingredients by weight. Raw foods would be similarly labeled on the shelf or bin where they are displayed for sale.

The initiative concerning primary elections would eliminate the Republican and Democratic primary system, in favor of sending the top two candidates in the primary election to the general election, regardless of party. As a result, the more than 30 percent of Oregonians not registered with either major party would be able to vote for candidates during the primary.

Ballots would still include the party affiliation of candidates, and in presidential election years, only Republicans and Democrats would be allowed to cast a vote in their parties’ presidential primary.

— Reporter: 541-383-0387, shammers@bendbulletin.com